WHILE Singapore has awarded contracts this week for the construction of a new low-cost carrier (LCC) terminal with completion expected in early 2006, Malaysia has yet to decide on the location for a similar hub, although it is keen to have it either at Subang or KL International Airport (KLIA).
Whatever the decision, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) managing director Datuk Bashir Ahmad is confident that a LCC hub can be developed quickly.
We can do it very fast ... it should not take long to build as it would be simple in structure, Bashir told a media briefing at KLIA yesterday.
Building a LCC terminal is one of the many projects planned by MAHB for this year. The others include the planning and eventual construction of a second satellite building at KLIA to handle up to 10 million passengers. Work on this project should begin this year and be completed by 2008.
The A380 super jumbos ordered for Malaysia Airlines (MAS) are expected to take to the skies soon and making preparations for their take-off and landing at KLIA is also part of MAHB's plans.
Bashir also spoke of the need to upgrade the gate allocation and check-in systems at KLIA, buy two additional coaches for the Aerotrain and construct a spur line for it.
Additionally, MAHB intends to revamp its retail business and employ more security and fire rescue personnel. It would also look into the upgrading of local airports. Several projects in this regard are already under way, such as the redevelopment and upgrading works at the Kuantan, Alor Setar, Penang, Sibu and Kuala Terengganu airports.
These are some of the projects we will undertake as part of our efforts to improve our services to passengers and airlines, Bashir said.
Indeed, KLIA won several awards last year and was ranked the worlds third best airport in terms of customer satisfaction in a survey by AETRA. But MAHB is not resting on its laurels. As Bashir was quick to point out yesterday, there is still plenty of room for improvement and we have to continue to work hard.
Bashir said passenger traffic through KLIA was expected to hit 25 million next year and if the LCC hub was in place by then, it would help ease some of the congestion that may be experienced before a second satellite building was completed.
He also said that given its wide experience locally, MAHB would continue to look for opportunities to manage airports abroad. It has already received four requests from parties in Asia, the Middle East and Africa to operate airports for them.
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